“Finding answers together”. With the title of the new strategic plan, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) calls on new and existing, national and international partners for more collaboration. Expansion and intensification of such collaboration is necessary to find solutions to critical global challenges.
"More than ever, we will need knowledge of different disciplines," says Executive Board President Louise Fresco. "Everywhere in the world, you see interesting solutions arise when, for example, food scientists, food technologists, protein specialists, and economists start working together. Collaboration between IT and agriculture also leads to exciting innovations. We can achieve so much more when we can bring that knowledge together. That is what we will focus on over the next few years."
In the Strategic Plan (2019-2022), WUR describes the global challenges in the Wageningen domain of food and living environment. The global population is growing and there is an increasing demand for healthy, versatile, safe, and sustainable food. Additionally, the climate is changing and fossil fuels are becoming scarce. As a leading organisation in the field of agriculture, food, and environment, WUR delivers knowledge, research, and education of the highest level.
With its research teams, WUR wants to maintain its leading position in the domain of healthy food and living environment. It is clear that within this domain, complex global issues exist, including in the field of malnutrition, degradation of nature and depletion of natural resources, environmental quality in urban areas, and climate change. WUR has identified four important transitions which are needed: circular agri-food systems, consumption of proteins from a variety of sources, a circular biobased economy, disruptive technology and digital connectivity. The complexity of these types of issues means that WUR wants to invest in these three themes even more in the years to come: Connected Circularity, Protein Transition, and Digital Twins.
WUR has recently been named university with the best education in the Netherlands for the 14th consecutive time. Regardless of the growing student numbers and the decreasing government budget per student, WUR wants to maintain its educational quality. The measures taken include a new education building, additional lecturers, and a focus on new educational methods. Educational opportunities for professionals will be further expanded. WUR will also be responding to the demand from students and professionals for more personalised and flexible learning pathways. WUR will promote the “international” classroom by integrating international students into the Wageningen community, by improving the language skills of students and staff, and through international internships for students. In order to avoid stress and isolation of students, additional efforts will be made to prevent these types of issues.
Value creation and innovation
Ever since it was founded, WUR has been collaborating with both national and international knowledge institutions, government bodies, and companies in the field of research. This enables scientific knowledge to find a way into society. More than 50,000 Wageningen alumni are already ensuring that up-to-date knowledge and insights are translated into practice across the world. In the new period for the Strategic Plan, the scope for allowing students from emerging and developing countries to study in Wageningen will be reviewed. WUR also wants to encourage entrepreneurship through education by means of student initiatives, student challenges, company developments, and by promoting important startups and spin-offs. In the coming years, WUR will also continue to contribute to national and international social agendas and the social debate regarding issues such as the climate agenda of the Dutch government, leading sectors, and European objectives as well. WUR gladly shares its research facilities and infrastructure with other partners and a dialogue centre will be opened on campus in order to engage in the social debate more successfully.
The impact of WUR is established through its employees. Development, trainee, talent, and partner programmes are offered. Internal staff mobility is also encouraged and there will be more focus on attracting younger staff members and greater diversity. In order to limit the level of work pressure, WUR is taking action by recruiting additional lecturers, simplifying procedures, and coordinating systems. WUR also continues to fulfil its leading role in the field of sustainability and corporate responsibility and focuses on offering healthier and more sustainably produced food in canteens as well as on reducing food waste.